Environmental Justice in Mexico
Defending the territory in Mexico against the upcoming political scenario. Resistance and struggles in socio-environmental conflicts
By Alexia Jazmín Soto Ochoa, 2018-12-09
Since the introduction of the neoliberal economic model to Mexico, being itself the backyard of the United States of America and Canada, the conflicts of dispossession, exploitation and defense of the land caused by the creation of infrastructure works, mining extraction, basins consortiums among other things, have derived in multiple territorial disputes that have cost the displacement of thousands and the lives of, from 1995 to December 2017, 103 environmental defenders in Mexico.
The party that supposes the opposition to those who have exploited the country, MORENA (Movement of National Regeneration), does not offer an economic model different from the parties that have preceded in position, and although its victory can be considered as a symbolic electoral partway, its pragmatic reality is limiting. Their political agenda does not present a promising panorama for land defense, as it continues unalloyedly with the administration of deconcentrated institutions for the protection of the national waters and territory that are useless and alienated with corporative interests.
Many of its members, claimants of redemption, are representatives of a transition that seeks to maintain the privileges of the political and business class, for example: Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, an union leader in the mining sector, returns to Mexico as a plurinominal senator (this meaning without having been voted), after a 12 year exile in Canada. He was involved in the Pasta de Conchos conflict where in 2006, due to negligence and turbulent circumstances, several tunnels collapsed in the coal mine leaving a balance of 65 life losses.
Another message that reveals the interests of the bench can be found in the new Agrarian Development Law Initiative promoted by the new senator Ricardo Monreal Ávila, which violates the right to self determination of indigenous communities and if approved, it will subordinate Mexican agriculture to large-scale macroeconomic projects, contrary to the nature of ejidal communities life and facilitating the exploitation and dispossession of the territory, seeking to change land tenure. This depicts an offensive to the agreements in the administration and use of the national land and waters, the agrarian law, the environment and the people that occupy them.
The opportunities to advocate can be work in government policies that complement the existing law to guarantee safety for human rights activists and thus continue with their work and dissemination, open and maintain lines of communication with institutions, demand companies to establish and comply with protocols to urge host and origin governments to legitimate mechanisms of consultation with the defensors and those who are affected and commit to desist from physical and / or legal attacks against them.
On the other hand, the elephant in the room is a corrupt judicial system that requires strategies and colossal efforts to overcome the obstacles we constantly face in the country to enforce justice. We are facing a justice that is far from being prompt, impartial and expeditious as stipulated in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States in its Article 17. A right is then a privilege only a few can access, few who are not uncomfortable, a threat, but convenient for the State. The bet is on civil society organizations that function as surveillance observatories for compliance with the law and the distribution and guarantee of their work.
To defend the territory is to defend the life and permanence of the people, therefore the government that will take possession should have an agenda committed to the environment; however, no Mexican political party has a credible and vindicating program. Against this background, the defense continues in the hands of organizations and civil society and it will be essential to know how and with whom to create alliances so that the confining mafia and economic reality, always on top of the political system, does not disappear us.
(31 dec. 2017) Violencia a ambientalistas en México, el silencio de un discurso que incomoda. México. Recovered from efe.com
(19 feb. 2018) Explosión en Pasta de Conchos pudo haberse evitado. México. Recovered from mx.boell.org
*Redacción Animal Político. (27 aug. 2018) Gómez Urrutia reaparece en México; dice que ayudarÁ a terminar con la corrupción. México. Recovered from animalpolitico
Image: © Alexia Jazmín Soto Ochoa - "You don't fight for what you don't love" Temacapulín, Jalisco, Mex.